While I wholeheartedly believe that HyFlex is the future of higher education, I also believe that many professors are intimidated by the prospect of designing and teaching a Hyflex course that requires them to meet the same learning objectives with three different sets of students at the same time – Live On campus, Live Online, and Asynchronous Online. Faculty frustration also extends to time necessary to learn, design and build these types of courses in an efficient and effective way that also compensates them for this additional time on top of their normal teaching load.
The approach we take at our institution addresses these concerns by proposing that professors build all courses as an 8 module/2 live session per module Hyflex course that gives students two attendance choices: asynchronous or in person. While still a challenge to build and teach, this two-choice HyFlex approach is much more manageable for faculty and is easily adapted to fit the delivery type and course length need (expanded or contracted) for that particular program, term, or teaching professor.
This evidence-based approach is recommended based on five important factors:
The cost of equipping classrooms with the technology necessary to successfully facilitate simultaneous in person and virtual sessions is, in many cases, cost prohibitive. The cost of equipping faculty with the initial and ongoing training and technical support necessary for this approach can also be cost prohibitive. Maximum cost efficiency could be achieved through contract template builds of all courses using the 8 module/2 live session Hyflex approach. This course template would only have to be contracted and built once, and teaching professors could then easily adapt it to fit the delivery type (asynchronous online, synchronous online, hybrid/TUG, HyFlex Virtual, HyFlex Campus) and course length (8 or 16 weeks) need for that particular program (TRAD, PS, or GRAD) and student level (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Grad).
A large percentage of faculty excel at engaging their students in a traditional face to face environment. A smaller percentage of faculty excel at engaging their students in a live virtual environment. An even smaller percentage of faculty members are able to successfully engage both sets of students. While this live simultaneous engagement approach is possible to pull off successfully, it is difficult even with the best equipment, technical support, and training.
While internet connectivity and speed are relatively consistent on our campus, it is not necessarily the case for many of our students off campus. There are many students that do not have consistent access to: a computer/tablet/smart phone, consistent high-speed internet connectivity, or a private/quiet location to log into class.
Many faculty members teach as they were taught; using a traditional combination of in person lecture, mid-term and final exams. This approach has been followed throughout the majority of higher education’s history, but the science of learning research shows conclusively, that a flipped approach that uses more formative small stakes activities/assessments and fewer summative large stakes activities/assessments, better enables student learning and overall success. Using a flipped approach takes most of the lecture out of the classroom, breaks it up in manageable chunks, and pushes it into the asynchronous online space where students can engage at a time of their choosing. In-class time is then used to engage in active learning activities that would not, in most cases, be conducive to live virtual engagement or recording and posting for asynchronous students to watch later.
Aligning learning outcomes, curriculum, and delivery flexibility across programs (TRAD, PS, GRAD) enables program-level learning assessment that accurately compares outcomes within your institution and to other like institutions. This approach gives you the ability to reduce assessment redundancy and maximize departmental leader efficiencies.
Whether you choose to take a detailed institutional approach like this, or you just start with your individual course, this key design approach remains the same: build all courses with a minimal attendance/participation flexibility that addresses student needs, and then iterate by adding and improving the flexibility/choices over time. Building and teaching an engaging HyFlex course takes a lot of time and hard work, but it is achievable if you start simply and work your way toward more flexibility options as your skillset and both faculty and student support systems allow.